LANSING | A Major League Baseball All-Star with local ties to both Thornton Fractional South High School and Heritage Middle School is going to bat for his elementary school alma mater.
Center fielder Curtis Granderson is expected to speak at a Jan. 30 support rally for Sunnybrook Elementary District 171.
Sheryl Black, a District 171 parent and chairwoman of the What's Best For Sunnybrook Kids Committee - the group helping to promote the school district's February tax referendum - said Granderson agreed to attend next month's rally at the Bethel Christian Reformed Church, 3500 Glenwood-Lansing Road, in Lansing.
An exact time for the rally has not been set.
Granderson attended District 171's Heritage Middle School and is a 1999 alum of TF South, both in Lansing. He attended the University of Illinois Chicago.
In 2002, he was a third-round draft pick of the Detroit Tigers, and was recently traded to the New York Yankees.
"Currently I am one of only 26 professional baseball players and coaches with a four-year college degree," Granderson said in a written testimonial provided to District 171. "Part of that accomplishment I owe to the activities I was a part of while a student at Heritage Middle School. I participated in basketball and track while also serving as a peer mediator and tutor. Events such as the spelling bee, science fair, outdoor camping trip and state capital field trip also helped shape me as an individual.
"Through these activities, I learned leadership and time management skills, how to handle winning and losing and how to work within diverse groups of people. The re-establishment of these programs will be vital to the future development of Heritage's students," he said.
On Feb. 2, District 171 will ask voters to approve a tax rate increase of 40 cents per $100 of assessed value, or about $206 more in taxes per year on a $200,000 home, according to information provided by the school system.
It will be the Lansing-Lynwood elementary district's third referendum try since 2007. In April, an increase of 30 cents per $100 of assessed value fell about 200 votes short of approval at the polls.
Following that defeat, the district made $329,559 in cuts which included all extracurricular activities such as basketball, volleyball, track, band, chorus, student council, tech club, art club and the Illinois Math and Science Academy program. One special education teaching position also is not being filled, and reductions are being made in supply and material purchases.
After reviewing the district's financial data and exploring other options including borrowing and making more cuts, the district's referendum/finance committees recommended the district make another referendum attempt.